February 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 42
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Conclusion of International Symposium on Ecumenical Event

    VATICAN CITY, FEB 27 (ZENIT).- "The Ecumenical Council Vatican II was an authentic prophecy for the life of the Church," stated John Paul II as he closed the international symposium on the application of Vatican Council II held in Rome this past weekend. This ends a series of meetings convoked over the past few years to prepare the Church for the Jubilee.

    According to the Pope, that historical Council was, above all, "an experience of faith," unchanging testimony of a Church that is "the People of God walking in the paths of history, the Church of Christ of which modern men and women are still in need, if they wish to understand themselves profoundly. Because of this, it is important to continue studying in depth the teachings of that Council.

    The Symposium began on Friday, with the participation of 250 persons, among whom were Cardinals, Bishops, theologians, and qualified lay people. The need to reflect again on that Council on the occasion of the Jubilee was manifested by John Paul II in his 1994 Apostolic Letter "Tertium Millennium Adveniente," which announced the convocation of the Holy Year, establishing its preparatory phase for reflection by the entire Church.

Experience of Faith

    In his address to close the Symposium, John Paul II stated first and foremost that the Council was an experience of faith of the Church, which abandoned itself to God, "without reservations, with the attitude of one who trusts and has the certainty of being loved." Therefore, "anyone who tries to approach the Council ignoring this key to the reading would be deprived of the possibility to enter its profound spirit."

    "The Council Fathers were faced with a real challenge," the Holy Father continued. To "understand more intimately, in a period of rapid changes, the nature of the Church and its relation with the world in order to effect an opportune 'updating.'"

    Recalling that he was also among the participants in the Council, the Holy Father said: "we accepted that challenge and responded by searching for more coherent understanding of the faith."

Recover Original Intention

    The Pope explained that this Symposium continued with the work carried out by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985, 20 years after the conclusion of the Council. That ecumenical meeting "requires an ever more profound knowledge," as "it is necessary not to lose the genuine intention of the Council Fathers; on the contrary, it must be recovered, overcoming cautious and partial interpretations that impede expressing to the maximum the novelty of the Council Magisterium."

    The Pope was very clear: "To read the Council assuming that it supposes a rupture with the past, when in reality it is aligned with the everlasting faith, is clearly erroneous."

Four Fundamental Constitutions

    This continuity of Vatican Council II with 2000 years of Church history was emphasized by the Holy Father, when he referred to the four fundamental Council Constitutions.

    In "Dei Verbum," the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the Church "asks each one of us to assume our own responsibility at the moment of conserving it intact in the process of transmission."

    "Sacrosanctum Concilium" illustrated "the premises for a liturgical life that renders to God the authentic worship owed to him by the people."

    "Lumen Gentium," expresses the principle of communion in the Church, which becomes "evident in the various institutional forms in which the ecclesial ministry is carried out and in the function of Peter's successor as visible sign of the unity of all believers." From this moment, the "impetus of the ecumenical desire" became "irreversible," the aspiration for unity among all believers in Christ.

    Finally, "Gaudium et Spes" shows that the Church "is conscious of possessing a message that fruitfully summarizes the hope of every man and the response God gives him."

Majestic Tree

    The "little seed" of the Council, an expression used by John XXIII in 1961, has become today, according to the Pope, "a tree" of "majestic branches." Therefore, in bidding farewell to the Symposium participants, the Pope left them with a very concrete message: "A new season is opening before our eyes: it is the time to go profoundly into the Council teachings, the time of the harvest of what was sowed by the Council Fathers."

    "The Ecumenical Council Vatican II was an authentic prophecy for the life of the Church; it will continue to be this during many years of the third millennium that has just begun," the Pope concluded. ZE00022705


February 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 42

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